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This Instant Pot dal makhani has the most smooth and creamy texture without using any dairy products! This vegan dal features hearty lentils, kidney beans, fresh spinach, and warm spices for a healthy, decadent dish that’s super satisfying and family-friendly. It’s also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free too!
Skip the restaurant and enjoy the delicious flavors of dal makhani at home with this easy Instant Pot recipe. You can get even better flavors because cooking it in a pressure cooker allows all the seasonings and spices to marry together, and it speeds up the cooking time for those dry beans and lentils!
This Instant Pot vegan dal makhani is a game-changer for Indian food lovers who crave the creamy texture and unique flavor of this traditional North Indian dish but don’t have a long time to spend slow cooking it. This recipe simplifies the process without compromising on the authentic taste, making it a favorite for both special occasions and weekday meals.
What’s more is that this recipe is versatile enough to be prepared in an Instant Pot, slow cooker, or on the stovetop. It’s such a convenient choice for busy weeknights or relaxed weekend cooking! It’s about to become your new favorite dal dish!
Traditional dal makhani is made with lot of cream and butter – making it rich and flavorful, but not very healthy and definitely not vegan friendly. This version is vegan, gluten-free and actually good for you! And the best part is that it’s also easy to make, even for beginners and tastes even better the next day!
It’s a delicious blend of brown lentils and red kidney beans, simmered to perfection with a medley of aromatic spices. The coconut milk adds a creamy texture, while the chili powder and garam masala add a unique flavor that’s synonymous with traditional Indian cuisine.
Serve this with a side of jeera rice or garlic naan for a complete, restaurant-style Indian meal right at home. The rich, buttery lentils paired with the tangy tomato-based sauce create a comforting dish that’s perfect for special occasions or a cozy family dinner.
I love the flavors and textures of homemade dal makhani. We make this recipe vegan by using coconut milk and coconut oil instead of the cream and butter. Then, we add richness and flavor with lots of warm spices. This results in a creamy dish you won’t even be able to tell is vegan! It’s truly one of my favorite recipes!
✔️ What Is Dal Makhani?
Dal makhani is a traditional dish from the Punjab region of North India and is served at Indian restaurants all around the country and is one of the most popular Indian dal recipes. In traditional recipes, it’s prepared with butter and cream, but in this vegan version, we substitute those ingredients with coconut milk and coconut oil for a delicious vegan dal makhani.
👩🏽🍳 Why You’ll Love Dal Makhani In The Instant Pot
- Plant-Based, High Protein: This easy dal makhani recipe is a dream come true for vegans and vegetarians. It is loaded with hearty lentils, kidney beans, and fresh spinach, all of which are plant-based, high in protein, and brimming with nutrients. Each serving of dal makhani has 12 grams of protein!
- Quick And Easy: Thanks to the Instant Pot, this recipe is quick and easy to whip up. Just toss in your ingredients, set the timer, and let the magic happen. It’s a great timesaver, especially on busy weeknights making it one of the best Instant Pot recipes!
- Gluten-Free: This dal makhani is entirely gluten-free, making it a wonderful option for those with dietary restrictions. Plus, it’s so delicious that even those without dietary restrictions will find it irresistible.
- Simple Ingredients: You don’t need a long list of exotic ingredients for this recipe. Most items are pantry staples, like lentils, kidney beans, and Indian spices, making this a convenient go-to meal. It’s seriously the best dal makhani recipe.
- Versatile: This recipe is incredibly versatile. Feel free to swap out the spinach for kale or serve it with different types of bread or rice. It’s a great way to keep things interesting in the kitchen.
- Family-Friendly: This delicious dal makhani is a real crowd-pleaser. The creamy texture and warm spices appeal to both adults and kids, making it a family-friendly dish that everyone can enjoy. It’s Indian comfort food at its best!
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The ingredients for this easy dal makhani recipe in the Instant Pot are not only healthy and nutritious, but also easily available. You can find them in your local grocery store or even in your pantry, making this a convenient dish to whip up anytime.
For The Dal (Cooked In The Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Or Pressure Cooker)
- Whole Black Urad Dal: These are the stars of our recipe, giving our dal makhani its hearty and satisfying texture. They are rich in protein and fiber, making this dish not only delicious but nutritious as well. We’ll use urad dal (whole black ural dal or whole black gram lentils) for this recipe since this is the type of lentil that’s traditionally used.
- Dry Red Kidney Beans: These dried kidney beans add an extra layer of texture and protein to the dish. Their unique flavor compliments the lentils perfectly.
- Water: This is our main cooking liquid and will help cook the lentils and beans to the perfect consistency.
- Baby Spinach: Chopped finely, baby spinach adds a pop of color and a boost of vitamins to our healthier dal makhani.
For The Spice Mixture (Cooked On The Stovetop)
- Red Onion: Diced red onion adds a sweet and tangy flavor that balances the spices in this dish.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: This paste adds a kick of flavor and helps to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Crushed Tomatoes: These add a tangy sweetness that compliments the spices and gives our Instant Pot dal makhani a rich, hearty flavor.
- Salt: It can be adjusted according to taste and is essential for bringing out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Coconut Oil: Used for sautéing the spices, coconut oil adds a subtle sweetness and helps to create a rich, creamy texture in the dal.
- Chili Powder: This adds a bit of heat to the dish. Adjust the amount according to your spice preference.
- Full Fat Coconut Milk: This is the secret to achieving a creamy, rich texture in this Instant Pot dal makhani without cream! Do not substitute with low-fat milk. In a pinch, you can use cashew cream as well.
- Garam Masala: This warm Indian spice blend adds a depth of flavor that makes this dish truly special and authentic.
🍲 Ingredient Substitutions
- Whole Black Urad Dal: If you can’t find whole black urad dal at your local store, you can substitute it with brown lentils or black beluga lentils.
- Red Kidney Beans: If you don’t have dry red kidney beans, you can use canned kidney beans. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as canned beans are already cooked.
- Coconut Oil: If you’re out of coconut oil, any neutrally flavored oil like olive oil or avocado oil will work just fine.
- Coconut Milk: A good dal makhani has to be creamy, and full fat coconut milk is essential to get that creamy texture. Do not use a milk substitute unless it is full fat since this will affect the way the dish turns out.
- Spinach: Feel free to swap the spinach for kale or any other leafy green you have on hand.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: If you don’t have ginger garlic paste, you can use fresh minced ginger and garlic.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes give this dal recipe its tangy sweetness, but if you don’t have it you can use tomato paste, canned diced tomatoes blended with an immersion blender, or tomato sauce in a pinch.
🔪 How To Make Instant Pot Dal Makhani
Want some delicious restaurant style dal makhani at home? Here’s a simple guide on how to make this creamy, flavorful dish in your Instant Pot. For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card at the end of this post.
Cook Lentils And Kidney Beans: Begin by cooking the lentils and kidney beans in your Instant Pot with a sufficient amount of water. You can also use a slow cooker or stovetop, but be aware that the cooking time will be longer. In the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for about half an hour and allow for natural release.
Mash Lentils And Beans: Slightly mash some of the cooked lentils and beans using a potato masher. Add in some baby spinach and let the dal simmer on the “keep warm” setting of your Instant Pot while you prepare the spice mixture.
Saute Onions And Ginger Garlic Paste: To make the spice mixture (masala), heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add coconut oil, onions, and a paste made from garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions become translucent.
Add Tomatoes And Spices: Add crushed tomatoes to the pot and cook for about five minutes. Next, add your spices and salt, cooking for an additional three minutes.
Combine Dal Mixture: Pour the lentils, kidney beans, and spinach mixture into the large pot with the spices. Stir to combine and let it simmer for about twenty minutes on medium-low heat. If the dal becomes too thick, add a little water.
Add Coconut Milk: Finally, stir in the coconut milk and let the dal simmer for another ten minutes until all the flavors are well combined.
Serve this Instant Pot dal makhani immediately!
💭 Expert Tips
- Perfect Timing For Coconut Milk: Add the coconut milk during the last ten minutes of cooking. This guarantees that dal gets the right creamy consistency without the coconut milk breaking down too much. You’ll end up with the best dal makhani ever!
- Slow Cooker Or Stove-Top Alternatives: If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry! This recipe can also be prepared in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. Just remember, the cooking time will be longer than the Instant Pot method.
- Using A Regular Pressure Cooker: You can make this recipe is a traditional pressure cooker or even an electric pressure cooker. Cook the lentils and kidney beans for 6 to 8 whistles in your pressure cooker and then follow the recipe instructions as mentioned.
- Adjust The Consistency: If your dal is getting too thick while simmering, don’t hesitate to add a little water. This will help you achieve the perfect creamy consistency for this vegan dal makhani recipe.
This dal makhani Instant Pot recipe is absolutely perfect as is, but if you’re looking to change it up a bit, here are some variation ideas you can try:
- Coconut Cream Instead Of Coconut Milk: For a richer, creamier texture, try swapping the coconut milk for coconut cream. This will make your dal makhani even more delicious and is perfect for special occasions.
- Madras Lentils Variation: Switch up the lentils and use adzuki beans instead of brown lentils. And skip the garlic and garam masala for a delicious Madras lentil version of this classic dish. Try adding some cumin seeds for a more robust flavor.
- Make It Spicy: This lentil curry is creamy, rich, and has tons of flavor but it’s not too spicy, especially compared to other traditional Indian dishes. You can always adjust the spice as needed – add less to start if you’re sensitive or add more to taste. If you want it to be spicier, you can add a little cayenne pepper or some extra red chili powder, or even sprinkle some chopped green chilies before serving.
- Add Kasoori Methi: Kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves are a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. Adding a teaspoon of this to your dal makhani will give it a unique flavor that’s both slightly bitter and sweet. Add it just before serving this healthy dal makhani.
- Use Heavy Cream: While this recipe is vegan, if you’re not following a vegan diet, you can add a splash of heavy cream at the end for an extra creamy consistency. Just remember to adjust the heat to low to prevent the cream from curdling.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
This homemade dal makhani is an absolute classic that you can serve in so many ways!
- With Indian Bread: Serve this pressure cooker dal makhani with Indian bread like garlic naan, whole wheat naan, Guyanese roti, or vegan naan for a complete meal. The bread compliments the creamy texture of the dal and makes it even more satisfying. You can also go for whole wheat tortillas or any warm bread – you can’t ever go wrong with bread!
- Rice Sides: Pair this delicious creamy dal makhani with jeera rice, brown rice, pressure cooker quinoa, or regular basmati rice for a hearty, nutritious meal.
- Other Indian Mains: You can serve this classic with our delicious Indian dishes such as tandoori cauliflower or cauliflower sabji.
- With Salads: For a lighter meal, serve this dal with a fresh salad. The creaminess of the dal pairs wonderfully with the crunchiness of a salad. Just about any salad will work with this recipe, including a tomato avocado cucumber salad.
- Garnishes: Some people like to garnish it with a bit of vegan sour cream, Greek yogurt, or fresh cilantro. But If you want to keep this recipe vegan-friendly, you should use a vegan yogurt or sour cream.
🙌 Dietary Adaptations
This Instant Pot dal makhani recipe is already vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free, which makes it a wonderful choice for those following these dietary restrictions. Using coconut milk instead of traditional dairy products helps guarantee that this recipe is vegan and dairy-free. And the lentils, red kidney beans, and spices used in this recipe are naturally gluten-free, making this recipe suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
- To Refrigerate: Leftovers of this delicious Instant Pot dal makhani can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure they have cooled down all the way before storing. They will keep well for up to four days, allowing the flavors to meld together even more beautifully.
- To Freeze: This recipe freezes really well! Make sure the dal makhani has cooled down all the way, and then transfer to an airtight container. Place in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating and eating.
- To Reheat: Reheat the dal makhani in the microwave for the quickest method. Just heat it until it’s hot all the way through and enjoy. You could also slowly warm it in a small saucepan, but be sure to stir it frequently so it doesn’t burn.
Urad dal (scientically called vigna mungo) is a common lentil used in Indian cooking and is widely available in all Indian grocery stores around the US. It’s also called urad bean, whole black lentils, black gram beans, black dal, or black beans. This specific type of lentil is used to make traditional dal makhni.
Dunghar is a classic Indian cooking technique to add a smoky flavor to any dish. It involves infusing the smoke of a small piece of charcoal to a dal or gravy dish. Typically, a piece of lit coal is placed into a small bowl of ghee. This bowl is placed on top of the dish and a lid is placed on top to infuse a smoky, complex flavor in the dish.
Yes! Dal makhani is good for your health when made with wholesome ingredients and less heavy cream and butter. It’s packed with plant protein and fiber, making it a great addition to a healthy diet. Our version is truly a healthy dal makhani recipe, because we use coconut milk instead of heavy cream for a healthy plant based swap. This creates a dal makhani that’s low fat, low calorie, but high in protein, fiber, nutrients – and most important – delicious flavor!
You might be wondering, “does dal makhani have dairy?” Unfortunately, traditional dal makhani does contain dairy (both butter and cream), and therefore is not vegan friendly. But our version swaps the dairy for plant based alternatives (coconut oil and coconut milk), making it vegan and dairy-free, but it tastes just as good as the classic recipe!
Costco’s ‘Tasty Bites Madras Lentils’ is incredibly popular and quite similar to dal makhani. However, there are some key differences between the two dishes. Adzuki beans are used to make Madras lentils instead of whole black urad lentils, and it also doesn’t contain garlic or garam masala like dal makhani does.
🍛 More Healthy Indian Recipes!
- Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry
- Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach
- Chole Masala
- Vegetable Vindaloo
- Rajma Masala
- Aubergine Curry
- Sweet Potato Dahl
- Indian Stew with Rice and Lentils
- Roasted Cauliflower Curry with Sweet Potatoes
- Spicy Indian Lentil Soup
- Vegetarian Indian Recipes
Love this vegetarian indian recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!
📋 Recipe Card
🎥 Watch How to Make It
Instant Pot Dal Makhani
For The Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Pressure Cooker
- 1 cup dry brown lentils (about 2.5 cups cooked)
- ¼ cup dry red kidney beans
- 4 cups water
- 6 oz baby spinach, chopped finely
- Cook the lentils, kidney beans + water in the instant pot (you can also do this in a slow cooker or on the stovetop, the cook time will just be longer). In the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, natural release.
- Mash some of the lentils + beans using a potato masher. Add in the baby spinach and let the dal simmer on “keep warm” setting while you make the spice mixture.
- To make the spice mixture (masala), heat a medium pot over medium heat.
- Add coconut oil, onions, garlic ginger paste (or minced garlic/ginger), and cook until the onions are translucent.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and cook through – about 5 minutes. Add the spices and salt. Cook about 3 minutes more.
- Add in the lentils/kidney beans/spinach mixture into the large pot. Stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, on medium low heat. Add water if the dal is getting too thick.
- Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until combined.
- Do not use a milk substitute for the coconut milk unless it is full fat. This will affect the way the dish turns out.
- Feel free to swap the spinach for kale if you want to try a different leafy green in this recipe.
- Garnish with your favorite toppings such as fresh tomato slices or cilantro.
- Do not add the coconut milk until the last 10 minutes, or it will not turn out properly in the Instant Pot.
- You can make this ahead of time and serve it the next day – the flavors will just blend together even better as it sits overnight in the fridge!
- Serve with whole wheat naan, sprouted wheat tortillas, brown rice or quinoa.
- If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can cook the lentils & beans in a slow cooker or even on the stovetop — the cook time will just vary as both will take longer than the Instant Pot!